You’ve probably heard your share of myths. It can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction in all the information available online and in popular consumer magazines. Why not test your knowledge? Respond to each of the following commonly repeated statements about health with “true” or “false.” Check your results (and find some tips for seniors) below.
Quiz: Health Myths or Health Truths?
- You need to drink eight glasses of water each day.
- Reading in dim light causes eye strain.
- Spicy foods cause ulcers.
- If you’re thirsty, you’re dehydrated.
- You should drink more water when you exercise.
- You only use about 10 percent of your brain.
- A touch of diabetes is not as bad as full-blown diabetes.
The Truth About Healthy Living
1. You need to drink eight glasses of water each day: False. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription for daily water intake. The New York Times reports that this misconception may originate from a 1945 National Academy of Sciences paper. However, that paper included the water found in foods in its estimate of 2.5 liters (roughly eight glasses) a day — information that is often glossed over when this advice is reported.
2. Reading in dim light causes eye strain: True — at least in part. Dr. Rachel C. Vreeman and Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine, say that reading in poor light can certainly cause your eyes to strain and be uncomfortable, but it won’t necessarily cause permanent damage. That old line you used to hear from your mother about dim light “ruining your eyes” when she caught you reading by the light of the television was probably her way of saying, “Go to bed!”
3. Spicy foods cause ulcers: False. Spicy foods and stress can exacerbate stomach problems, but bacteria is the most likely cause of peptic ulcers. Tobacco and alcohol use also increase the odds of developing an ulcer.
4. If you’re thirsty, you’re dehydrated: False. The University of Rochester Medical Center says that when your first experience thirst, “your body is on its way to becoming dehydrated.” Researchers suggest drinking water before you feel thirsty to avoid dehydration.
5. You should drink more water when you exercise: True. As people exert energy (through talking, eating, walking, and other typical daily activities), they generate heat and perspire, causing them to lose water. Replenish lost body fluids by drinking water regularly.
6. You only use about 10 percent of your brain: False. This myth has been repeated for almost a century. However, according to Vreeman and Carroll, “Numerous types of brain imaging studies show that no area of the brain is completely silent or inactive. Detailed probing of the brain has failed to identify the ‘non-functioning’ 90 percent.”
7. A touch of diabetes is not as bad as full-blown diabetes: False. Remember the old line about being “a little bit pregnant”? It’s the same thing with diabetes. You either have it or you don’t, according to the Mayo Clinic.
So, how did you do? Don’t feel bad if you fell for some of these myths; they’re repeated so often that many believe them to be true. One of the most trustworthy pieces of advice you’ll ever hear is to achieve a healthy physical, mental, and emotional balance. Manage your physical health, socialize and stay connected, engage your brain — and don’t let health myths distract you from your health goals.